Summer Highlights

In the spring, Jessica Kizzire and Greg Newbold successfully defended their graduate documents. Greg’s master’s thesis explores serial procedures in Benjamin Frankel’s music for the Hammer cult film, Curse of the Werewolf (1961). In her doctoral dissertation, Jessica Kizzire contemplates musical adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice novels, with special emphasis placed on film and ballet. Congratulations to both on these major accomplishments!

Cody Norling spent time at the State Historical Society of Iowa researching the cultivation of music in Iowa City in the nineteenth century, specifically the efforts of early Iowa settler Robert Hutchinson. This topic is the subject of a paper to be given at the American Musicological Society Midwest Chapter meeting in September. He also wrote a book review for The Annals of Iowa.

This summer, Andrew Tubbs traveled to Denver and Washington, D.C., to conduct research in preparation for two conference papers. While in Washington, he visited the Library of Congress to work with the Aaron Copland collection for a project about Copland’s music for the film Of Mice and Men. Additionally, he was named Artistic Director for Combined Efforts, an all-ability artist group in Iowa City.

Nathan Platte presented on the symphonic score to The Wizard of Oz at the “Music and the Moving Image” conference, hosted annually at NYU. From there, he hopped the pond to the University of Huddersfield, where he participated in the international symposium “Sources and Archives in Screen Sound Studies.” Nathan served on the program committee and also contributed a presentation titled “Resonant Spaces or Echo Chambers? Listening to Hollywood’s Music Through Its Archives.”

Marian Wilson Kimber visited the FDR Presidential Library and Museum to examine the music sent by American citizens to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression.  In June she appeared with pianist Natalie Landowski, performing spoken-word compositions by Phyllis Fergus at the 120th anniversary celebration of the founding of the National League of American Pen Women in Washington, D.C. Wilson Kimber’s article about Fergus, who became the first musician president of the Pen Women in 1936, was published in their magazine.

With assistance from the University of Iowa School of Music and International Programs, Matthew Arndt presented a paper on modernism and organicism in Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, op. 1, at the Music Theory Midwest Twenty-Eighth Annual Conference in Iowa City and at the Ninth European Music Analysis Conference in Strasbourg, France. He also corrected proofs for his book, The Musical Thought and Spiritual Lives of Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg, coming out next month.

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Village of Obernai, France

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Harvey, Iverson, and Platte Organize First Annual “Front Porch Music Festival”

Zack Stanton and Trevor Harvey playing in the open jam

Zack Stanton and Trevor Harvey playing in the open jam

Trevor Harvey (ethnomusicology), Jennifer Iverson (music theory), and Nathan Platte (musicology) and their families collaborated to host the first annual Front Porch Music Festival on Saturday June 20 2015. The festival encouraged residents of the Longfellow neighborhood in Iowa City to play music together on their front porches. An open jam (pictured above) ran concurrently through the length of the festival. “All are welcome to play, whether you consider yourself a ‘real musician’ or not,” said co-organizer Iverson. “We expect to see everyone from 2-year-olds with homemade percussion instruments to professional cellists.” Indeed, the diverse line-up of performers included young piano students, youth folk trio the Skipperlings, various small ensembles including banjo, guitar, dulcimer, cello, piano, flute, trombone, and voice, wind quintet LIROS, the inter-generational choir Family Folk Machine, and a rock band.

The organizers were inspired by Platte’s previous experience with a similar festival, the Water Hill Festival, in Ann Arbor, MI and Make Music Day on June 21, a world-wide celebration of music-making. As Harvey points out, “Making music together can and should be an important aspect of sharing a neighborhood, a community, a culture.” Though Harvey, Iverson, and Platte now practice ‘academic’ music professionally—-teaching about historical, structural, and cultural aspects—-they all trained as performers for a large portion of their lives. “It was fun to get back to performing and playing,” Platte said. Platte and other performers are featured in a local news video segment from KCRG Channel 9. The organizers plan to make the festival an annual celebration.

Wilson Kimber, Cook, and Others Honored by Society for American Music

elocution and the 19th century American woman

elocution and the 19th century American woman

The Society for American Music has recently chosen musicologist Marian Wilson Kimber as the recipient of a publication subvention–an award that will defray the costs of publishing a book–for her monograph Feminine Entertainments: Women, Music and the Spoken Word (forthcoming from University of Illinois Press). The H. Earle Johnson Publication Subvention is “intended to support the costs of the publication of a significant monograph on an important topic in American Music.”  This is quite a significant award, as SAM awards only two subventions per year of $2500 each. Wilson Kimber’s book offers a detailed look at the under examined, gendered practice of elocution in the 19th century. She shows that elocution was a touchstone for women’s participation in a host of creative literary, dramatic, musical and dance activities. Wilson Kimber uniquely reveals the 19th-century American woman to have used the art of the spoken word not just for artistic and musical expression but also as a space to exert moral and cultural authority. At the same meeting, music theorist Robert Cook received an honorable mention for the Irving Lowens Memorial Article Award for his article “The Vocal Ecology of Crumb’s Crickets” in JSAM volume 7. An earlier post about that article is here.

Current and former University of Iowa faculty and students also made strong research presentations. At the conference’s opening session, School of Music Assistant Professor Nathan Platte presented new historical findings on the “Tara” theme from Gone With the Wind. Alumna Katheryn Lawson (MA, Musicology, 2013) hosted a discussion panel titled “Childhood and American Music.” Alumnus Michael Accinno (MA, Musicology, 2010) presented a paper on musical activity at the Perkins School for the Blind in the nineteenth century. At a special ceremony that featured a performance of his Piano Trio, UI alumnus Olly Wilson (Ph.D., Composition, 1964) received an Honorary Membership Award from the Society for his “inestimable contributions to American musical culture through his compositions, his teaching, and his championing of African-American music.” Further news about Iowa contributions at the 2015 SAM meeting are here.

Hearty congratulations to Professors Wilson Kimber, Cook, Platte, and other University of Iowa affiliates for such strong work in American music!